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School Districts Reeling After State Budget Proposal
A day after Gov. Pat Quinn proposed cutting $400 million from an already underfunded state education system, local school districts are speaking out.
“We're looking at an additional shortfall of $750,000 again next year," Taylorville Community School District Superintendent Dr. Gregg Fuerstenau said. "That's on top of the $1 million that we lost for fiscal year 13."
Fuerstenau said the looming cuts to state education funding is one of the reasons South Elementary School will close its doors at the end of the school year.
“We had six elementary buildings and now we'll be into three elementary buildings," Fuerstenau said.
Taylorville is not alone in this budget battle. The state is supposed to provide districts with more than $6,000 per student each year. It is a promise lawmakers have never kept, providing 95 percent of that amount two years ago, 89 percent last year and, if the governor's proposal goes through, 82 percent for 2014.
“The board is advocating with members of the general assembly and is working with the governor to try and ensure that we can get additional funds for education," State Board of Education Spokesman Matt Vanover said.
After the ball dropped in January, the State Board of Education pleaded with lawmakers for an additional $874 million to get everything back up to par. The news that they could now receive $400 million less is devastating.
“We are going to see a number of districts that are draining their reserves just to try to keep the lights turned on," Vanover said.
Fuerstenau said the worst part is local educators are left picking up the pieces state lawmakers have scattered on the floor.
“Had we received adequate state funding we would have balanced budgets," Fuerstenau said. " The Taylorville School District just cannot absorb that type of loss of revenue from the state of Illinois."
It is not all cuts when it comes to state education funding. In Wednesday's proposal, Quinn vowed to preserve things like childhood education and college scholarships.